Why generative AI will always be on the losing side in the war with human-written content creators

Generative AI is getting huge attention right now, but our research suggests its use as a content creation tool is not as widespread as the media hype would suggest. And for good reason, as this article reveals.

Taken from this week’s LinkedIn newsletter. Sign up to it here.


In a world where Generative AI is rapidly reshaping how we create and consume content, the question of its impact on Public Relations looms large. Join me as I delve into the dynamic intersection of technology, communication, and reputation management in our newsletter dedicated to exploring the nuanced debate.

What do you think about this as an opening paragraph? I won’t be offended if you dislike it.

That’s because these are not my words. They were written by ChatGPT.

As this week’s newsletter is focusing on the use of generative AI for content creation in the context of thought leadership, I wanted to start off by asking ChatGPT to write an introduction for me.

The result wasn’t too bad, but it wasn’t me. It didn’t use language in the same way that I do. ‘Dynamic’ and ‘intersection’, for example, make me come out in hives. Not to mention that they give the impression that I am an arse.

Why is this important?

This matters because any communication such as a newsletter or article that I create needs to represent my personal brand (which in turn reflects the brand of the business that I represent, Clearly PR) for it to be authentic.

Or, to get all SEO about it, for Google’s Quality Raters (yup, that’s what they’re called) to evaluate the quality of my content on four key criteria for it to be optimised and seen:

  1. Experience: Does the author know their arse from their elbow on this subject?
  2. Expertise: Does the author have the nouse and creds to justifiably speak on this topic?
  3. Authoritativeness: Is the author regarded by their peers as a leader in this space and known for creating content that adds value?
  4. Trustworthiness: Is it clear who the author is, is the content factually accurate, and is it easy to access without having to jump through a gazillion hoops designed to keep you on the site for longer and capture your data?

Returning to the opening paragraph and it seems clear to me that had I allowed ChatGPT to continue writing this entire newsletter, Google would have ranked it pretty low when scored against their EEAT criteria above.

You (oxy)moron

In response to a post on LinkedIn, one of the most respected and admired figures in the public relations industry, Dr Heather Yaxley, said to me:

“’Thought leadership content creation’ is an oxymoron.”

She’s right.

The post, authored by perhaps the second most influential figure in our industry, Stephen Waddington (aka Wadds), and former advisor to Clearly PR for three years, was a plea to refrain from being seduced by AI’s super-fast-content-on-demand allure. Stephen posted:

Thought leadership is exactly what it says it is—the ‘thoughts’ of ‘leaders’ and other senior figures who tick each of the four criteria outlined above.

So, until generative AI can access your brain to extrapolate the wisdom inside your head, the content that such platforms produce simply cannot possibly be considered ‘thought leadership.’ It is content, yes. But it’s not thought leadership content.

Any business using generative AI platforms to boost their thought leadership credentials is placing their brand—and that of the organisation they represent—at serious reputational risk. And damaged reputations come with financial consequences, too.

Don’t believe the hype about AI

AI is a hot topic right now. Journalists are writing about it in their droves. Organisations are dropping AI into every conversation and even redesigning existing job titles in their fervour to be perceived as being ahead of the pack to their customers, peers, competitors, and investors.

It’s all bollocks, really. Especially when you consider that the adoption of AI by businesses in practice is, well, not as widespread as many seem to think. And we have the proof.

What the research tells us

Last month, Clearly PR surveyed 266 business leaders and senior managers on their use of generative AI platforms. Specifically, we wanted to find out if the hype is reflected in practice when it comes to content creation.

So we asked them:

“Are you using platforms such as ChatGPT and Copy.ai to support your content creation strategies?”

We found that demand for human-generated content currently outstrips that for generative AI—a revelation that poo-poos the media hype.

Accordingly, human-generated content continues to be the preferred choice among businesses. Indeed, just one in three (33%) stated that they have utilised an AI writing generator tool for content marketing formats such as thought leadership articles.

Our survey also found that while almost half (45%) believe that AI and human-generated content can co-exist, 33% are adamant that the technology cannot replace human creativity and expertise—a sentiment that I 100% agree with.

A fifth (20%) stated that AI-generated content lacks depth or originality, and only 23% believe that it has the potential to replace human writing.

What can we take from this?
Generative AI will gain greater traction

While the majority of businesses and brands are not currently using any form of generative AI to create thought leadership content, that figure is likely to increase in the next 12 months.

This will be in part due to the frenzy for all-things AI and a doubling-down on content creation that is proven to be a powerful brand builder and prospecting tool.

This poses a real danger for all of us as we can expect our LinkedIn feeds to become flooded with content that is both awful and meaningless. It’s happening already.

Savvy businesses and brands recognise that to stand out from the noise requires the creation of content that is different—that adds value. In other words, as we say at Clearly, it’s great stories told clearly.

Demand for thought leadership content will continue to rise

One of the biggest growth areas we are seeing right now at Clearly PR is the surge in demand for thought leadership content. Indeed, we talk so much about it that one of our longest-serving clients once said this of us:

Clearly are the thought leaders on thought leadership.”

Rather than playing a supporting role within the marketing mix, it has been elevated to centre stage and is fast-becoming integral to B2B media relations and influencer marketing strategies.

The technology needs to become more ‘human’ and less robotic-sounding

A major criticism of AI content writing generator tools is the quality of the content they produce. The language and tone of most of the platforms we have trialed lack any semblance of personality, authenticity, or real conviction.

True thought leadership ‘speaks’ to its audience in a way that resonates with them and provides real-world insights into the challenges and issues they face.

Last word: Generative AI does have a role to play right now

Despite what I have just said, I do believe that these platforms have a role to play in PR, such as stimulating ideas for new pieces of content or undertaking basic research into a subject. Generative AI is still in its infancy and, as the technology evolves, its use of language will invariably do so, too.

You may like to read and watch:
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